Area teams put pads on for the first time this summer on the first day of the heat acclimatization period Monday.

Upper Dublin, Wissahickon and Plymouth Whitemarsh are coming off different seasons in 2020 but each team likes where it’s at heading into their 2021 campaigns.

The Cardinals, who won the District 1-5A championship last year, feel miles ahead of where they were during the heat acclimatization period in 2020. Quarterback Colin O’Sullivan, then a sophomore, entered camp as a transfer without much experience in the offense due to COVID-19 restrictions. Now, the junior signal caller has a full season of experience and an offseason under his belt.

“It’s a way different feeling this season,” O’Sullivan said. “Last season was uncomfortable coming in – no 7-on-7s, no nothing, just coming in. This season with 7-on-7s, Millersville camp, team camp – it just feels totally different. I feel like we’ll be really good.”

Millersville camp is referring to a trip the team took last month. Forty of the team’s 62 players spent the weekend at Millersville University and the team feels ahead of schedule in early August.

“It was really productive having three days of all football,” O’Sullivan said. “It was a good three days and everyone got a lot better.”

The Trojans made the District 1 playoffs for the first time in eight seasons last year and reached the 5A semifinals. Wissahickon will look to build off that success with returning starting quarterback Aidan Defeo and running backs Kyle Lehman and Jeremiah Clark.

“It was a big deal for us making it last year,” Wiss coach Bruce Fleming said. “It’s the first time making the playoffs in eight years. That gave a lot of excitement in the community. The returning guys that were on that team last year know what it takes to get there. They’ve been through the down years. Now I put it on my senior class to lead this team and bring the younger guys up and understand what’s the culture of our program and what we need to do to make a return trip to the playoffs.”

The Colonials went 2-3 last year. They bring back plenty of experience, including starting quarterback Chris Mclaughlin, and feel like they’re further along than they typically are on the first day with pads.

“We’re definitely further along mentally than most first days,” PW coach Dan Chang said. “We have a lot of guys coming back with experience, so we’re able to move it along, and we had a great turnout all summer. We’re mentally definitely ahead.”

Wissahickon and Plymouth Whitemarsh are both looking to make sure everyone is in shape during the first few days of the heat acclimatization period.

 “Outside the number of guys that’ve been coming out to summer workouts, it’s the other guys who may not have been here,” Fleming said. “Who’s in condition? Who’s in shape? Who’s been doing something throughout the summer instead of just sitting around playing Xbox or Call of Duty or something like that? We want to make sure everybody is in shape and ready to go.”

“Just get our bodies used to wearing pads again,” Chang said, “getting a little bit of contact, moving around in them, and then moving around at a little faster tempo within our own practices.”

Upper Dublin is using this time to work on its depth.

“Go back and re-teach the stuff we did at team camp for our kids that couldn’t go to camp and our new kids,” Upper Dublin coach Bret Stover said. “We have a couple of kids that moved into the district and we have freshmen out here today who are really lost. My goal is to get everybody caught up. It’s easier for us with our front line guys, but what makes us better is bringing our next level guys to catch them. Then if somebody gets hurt, it’s plug in and play … Our goal is to get the depth caught up because we bring back so much this year.”

The regular season starts in less than three weeks on Friday, Aug. 27.

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